Christianity: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

stupid isEven people who have never seen Forrest Gump have heard the expression, “Stupid is as stupid does.” It’s the way Forrest’s momma teaches him that real stupidity is not in intellect or how others judge you. Stupid people are revealed through their stupid behavior. People who DO smart things ARE smart people. People who do stupid things…well, you get the idea. And that concept is not unique to stupidity. It’s a truism of many facets of life. If you want to know about the character of a person, look at his actions. His behavior will out the truth. Smart people are those who DO smart things. Careful people are those who practice safety and care. Friendly people are those who behave as friends. In his first letter, John says it’s no different with spirituality and righteousness.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3)

I think John would have us understand a few things here:

  • We ARE family!

It’s an amazing thing to think about. In a world where people are striving for connection, where we settle for the superficial “friends” of social media, we are invited into a community of faith that becomes our family. God welcomes us with open arms and says, “There is a place here for you.” But that means something more than just a place to belong.

  • Family begins to look and sound like each other.

One of the funniest parts about belonging to a community is that we take on the look and speech of that community. Each family will have its own peculiar lexicon that develops over the course of time and shared experiences. I remember one time my family went to Wendy’s for a meal. While my mom was in line, my younger brother (maybe 6 years old?), my dad, and I went to the corner table. My brother was climbing over and under the tables and came up suddenly and hit his head on the bottom of the table. Trying to communicate what happened, he cried, “I boomped my head!” Naturally we thought this slip was funny, and it became part of the family lexicon. 30+ years later we will still say to each other, “I boomped my head (or arm, foot, etc.) when we get injured.

I read a fascinating article a while back (and if I ever find it again I’ll hyperlink it) that stated we sound like the 5 most important people in our social circles. That is to say, take the 5 people you spend the most time with, the people who have the most influence in your life, and you will find your dress and speech patterns are an amalgamation of those 5 people.

she's the devilThis is no different spiritually. Our spiritual family is supposed to change the way we look and sound. God’s family is supposed to do godly things. We turn our backs on ungodly behavior. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, righteous is as righteous does. We are called to turn our backs on ungodly behavior. We’re either part of God’s family or part of the devil’s family.

  • Finally, being part of God’s family is about MORE than personal righteousness – it includes taking care of each other.

The Bible is quite clear that we cannot be right with God if we are not actively loving and caring for humanity. If God is love, we cannot hate people and still maintain personal righteousness. There’s a unique spiritual blend – genuine righteousness means loving God AND loving each other. Any less is bogus spirituality. It’s a sham.

Think about your life. Have you actively been pursuing righteousness? Does your behavior identify you as part of God’s family? Do your actions towards others show that you are a child of God? If not, where do you need to change? How do your actions and speech need to change to reflect belonging to His family?


What do you think? I’d love to hear back from you in the comments, and please share the post on your social media platforms. 🙂

Theology Gone Ape

gorilla-752875_1920I know everyone has heard the recent story about the child falling into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo. After the authorities arrived, the gorilla was shoot shot in order to rescue the child.

Of course there was an instant fight between those who supported killing the gorilla and those who would have preferred another method of getting the young boy out. “Gorilla experts” took to the airwaves to defend each position. I’m not sure how Christians ended up getting involved in the animal welfare aspects of the case, but it was hard to be on social media and not see Christian people debating the ethics of killing the gorilla.

While we ought to strive to be good caretakers of God’s creation (yes, that includes animals) it’s important that good theology lead the discussion. Quite simply, humanity occupies a special place in the world. No animal life compares to human life. From the beginning of world, we have been set apart.

Then God said, “Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. They will be masters over all life – the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild animals, and small animals.”

So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them. God blessed them and told them, “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and the birds and all the animals.” (Genesis 2)

Indeed, it is only humanity that received the breath of God, that Spirit within us that makes us distinct from even our closest animal relatives. When it comes evaluating the worth of a life of a human over an animal, there really should be no place for debate. The human life is superior to the animal life.

No, this doesn’t give us room to be cruel to animals. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is that saving a human life is more important than saving an animal life. Of course another option that had been able to spare gorilla and child would have been great, but I have no qualms about and feel theologically justified in putting down an animal so that we might save human life.

And for those of you who saw fit to criticize the parents for “letting” their child climb into the gorilla enclosure, I leave you with this that I saw on my buddy Aaron’s Facebook page:

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How about you? Do you think they should have put the gorilla down or do you favor an alternative method for rescuing the boy?

TV Show Review: Mercy Street

Mercy StreetEvery once in a while you’ll come across a tv show that captures your interest and imagination from the very first few minutes in. Downton Abbey was such a show.

Mercy Street is not.

Oh, I wanted to be a believer. I’m a history buff and a big fan of historical fiction. I enjoy seeing how writers can take real history and create fictional stories in and around real events and lives. I’m also a fan of PBS – it’s a terrific channel with some great programming. When I saw the trailers for Mercy Street, the first original series to come to PBS in years, I was excited.

It is executive produced by Ridley Scott. The cast includes Gary Cole and Donna Murphy. It should be EPIC! Right? Right? Yet it falls short.

The Rundown

The cinematography is fine. Not great, just fine. It’s a tv show, so normally you don’t go into it thinking you’re going to seeing something spectacular. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled with Downton Abbey, which DID have spectacular cinematography and came across more as art than television. I guess that’s my biggest beef with Mercy Street (well, that and the Union doctor who insists that the war isn’t about slavery at all but rather about preserving the Republic).

It’s just a tv show. It isn’t art.

The dialogue is painful in places. There were some questionable casting decisions. The delivery of the performances is bland at best and painful at worst. The story-line itself drags and we spend an hour really going nowhere. Some of the characters seemed better suited to be in a 21st century setting (which I’m not yet sure if the fault is with the actors or with the writing). And you can thank Ridley Scott, I’m sure, for the graphic gore of a Civil War era hospital. All said and done, it felt lackluster. My wife and I have yet to determine if we’re going to stick around for episode 2.

The Story

Mercy Street is about a Virginia hotel that is turned into a makeshift hospital. Well, I suppose it’s REALLY about the people in and around the hospital. Think ER in an 1864 setting.

Here’s the recipe:

  1. Doctors vs. Nurses
  2. Medical professionals do crazy things to save patients
  3. Romance and relationships develop throughout the whole thing
  4. Hospital personnel wrestle with personal drama/issues.
  5. Throw in a healthy mix of slavery and North vs. South story-line.
  6. Mix vigorously for 60 minutes. Pour into PBS-sized containers and served chilled.

From a biblical point of view, my favorite part is the discussion on the universality of humanity. One of the docs says something to the effect that there is no blue blood or grey blood – Soldiers are Soldiers. It’s a good point that Christians often forget. All humanity is made in God’s image. That means there is inherent value in every individual.

Where the show falls short, though, is that the doctor who espouses this “all blood is the same” ideology only applies it to white troops and fails to see how the same reasoning applies to people of color. There is no white blood or black blood – people are people. Yes, one of the nurses calls the doctor’s view of race “unenlightened,” but it goes beyond enlightenment. It’s about a basic biblical understanding of humanity and the image of God. I believe this can be a point all Christians can and should get behind.

Will I watch the next episode? I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m not excited about it.

Now ask me if I’m excited about the next episode of Downton Abbey…  😉